stack of bestsellers image
Rave Reviews: Bestselling Fiction in America
University of Virginia Library
stack of bestsellers image
Introduction to the Exhibit
The Taylor Collection of Popular American Fiction
Making the Bestseller List
Types of Bestsellers
Beyond the Book
Beyond the Book: At the Movies
Beyond the Book: Bestsellers in Other Forms
Beyond the Book: Gone with the Wind
Current Bestsellers
Readers Tell Their Stories
More on the Bestseller Phenomenon

Bestsellers: Beyond the Book

The Most Popular Novel in American Fiction

When Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind, she did not merely tell a story about the Civil War. Instead, she wrote herself into literary history and planted her book in our national consciousness. In hindsight, we can see that no other novel so clearly epitomizes the cultural impact of bestselling fiction.

With a story, both archetypal and timely, that touches on war, love, jealousy, and loss, the book has appealed to a broad audience from the moment of its publication. Although critics have attacked the literary merit of Gone with the Wind, the novel stays fresh and compelling, and the narrative has become a part of our cultural knowledge. Most who have neither read the book nor seen the movie are familiar with Rhett's "'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn'" and Scarlett's "'After all, tomorrow is another day.'" Gone with the Wind, the first blockbuster novel of the twentieth century, remains a powerful presence in American culture at the turn of a new century. Scarlett O'Hara beckons to us still, and Rhett Butler continues to charm new readers in this thousand-page historical saga.

Facts and Figures

  • Gone with the Wind sold one million copies in the first six months following its publication.

  • Gone with the Wind was reprinted one hundred times while still in the first edition.

  • In 1936, the rights to the motion picture of Gone with the Wind sold for $50,000-the highest price ever paid for an author's first novel at that time.

  • By 1995, twenty-eight million copies of Gone with the Wind had sold worldwide.

  • Gone with the Wind has been translated into twenty-three languages.

 

Facsimile of costume design by Walter Plunkett for suit worn by Clark Gable as Rhett Butler. [Hollywood, 1939.]

Courtesy of the David O. Selznick Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin.


 

 

Facsimile of costume design by Walter Plunkett for dress worn by Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara.
[Hollywood, 1939]

Courtesy of the David O. Selznick Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin.


 

 

Black-and-white publicity still of Scarlett O'Hara [Vivien Leigh]. [1939]


 

 

Black-and-white publicity still of Scarlett O'Hara [Vivien Leigh] and Rhett Butler [Clark Gable]. [1939]


 

 

Mitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind. New York: Macmillan, 1936.
From the Taylor Collection of American Bestsellers.
Gift of Mrs. R. C. Taylor.



 


 

Mrs. Taylor particularly enjoyed Gone with the Wind. She had her copy of the first edition autographed by Margaret Mitchell and pasted letters to and from the author in the book.

 

Facsimile of typed letter, initialed, from Margaret Mitchell to Robert C. Taylor. 15 August 1936.
From the Taylor Collection of American Bestsellers.
Gift of Mrs. R. C. Taylor.


 


 

This first paperback edition appeared in 1961.

 

Mitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind. New York: Macmillan, 1961.

From the Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature.

 


Mitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind: Motion Picture Edition. New York: Macmillan, 1939. Advance dummy with pictorial wrappers.

From the Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature.


Dietz, Howard, ed. David O. Selznick Production of Margaret Mitchell's Story of the Old South, Gone with the Wind. New York: Greenstone, [1939]. Souvenir program.

From the Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature.


Ripley, Alexandra. Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind. New York: Warner Books, 1991.

From the Taylor Collection of American Bestsellers.
Purchased with the Robert Coleman Taylor Fund.


 


 

A controversial spin-off, The Wind Done Gone parodies Gone with the Wind. In this version, Alice Randall reimagines and retells the story from the point of view of Scarlett's mulatto half-sister, Cynara.

 

Randall, Alice. The Wind Done Gone. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.

Purchased with the Robert and Virginia Tunstall Trust Fund.



 

Albert H. and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
University of Virginia
PO Box 400110
Charlottesville VA 22904-4110
434/924-3025
Credits | Comments |  Special Collections
Library Home | Search the Library Web
Maintained by: mssbks@virginia. edu
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 16, 2009
© The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia